We like to think that volunteers who organize and run regattas for sailors with disabilities are “paying it forward,” meaning that if it were you in the boat, you’d want someone to be looking out for you, too. But paying forward isn’t always the only option.

For the past twelve years, the hundreds of volunteers who have helped make the Robie Pierce Regattas for sailors with disabilities a success have had their contributions matched by financial underwriting from sponsors. In the case of The Robie, co-hosted by Larchmont Yacht Club and American Yacht Club in Larchmont and Rye, New York, respectively, three of those sponsors (Burke Rehabilitation Hospital, Montefiore Medical Center, and the White Plains Hospital) are on the front lines of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, instead of their helping pay it forward, the organizers of The Robie decided it’s their turn to pay it back…to them.

The three Robie co-chairs (Siobhan Reilly, Bill Sandberg, and Buttons Padin) discussed what the volunteers and sailors could do to help fight COVID. It turned out that another Robie sponsor, UK Sailmakers New York, had been making personal protection equipment (PPE) isolation gowns out of spinnaker material and had 200 in stock. A quick email to the Robie sailors and volunteers and the funds were quickly available to purchase the 200 PPEs (at a price below UK’s cost). On Tuesday, May 5, Siobhan and Buttons delivered these 200 gowns to Burke, Montefiore, and White Plains Hospital.

“The smiles on the faces of the administrative folks receiving these boxes full of brightly colored PPEs convinced us that paying back can be as rewarding as paying forward,” said Buttons.

Lianne Hales Dugan, VP Development & Marketing for Burke, wrote, “Your donation brought a welcome reminder of the goodness in the world as our staff works tirelessly to ensure that our patients make the fullest possible recovery.”

In addition to the three hospitals and UK Sailmakers, other long-term Robie sponsors should also be recognized for their own initiatives to fight the pandemic including Subaru, Mercedes-Benz of New Rochelle, Carlsberg, and Gowrie Group.

In these stormy times, this year’s editions of two of the most inspiring sailing events in the world, the Robie Pierce One-Design Regatta and the Robie Pierce Women’s Invitational, regrettably had to be canceled.

The Robie will return on June 3 – 6, 2021 at Larchmont Yacht Club.

To learn more, please visit robiepierceonedesignregatta.com.